Now if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure-not to put it too severely-to all of you. For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him.
— 2 Corinthians 2:5-8, ESV.
When was the last time someone has hurt you?
Was it recent? Or was it a long time ago?
Regardless of duration, the hurt that was caused had a ripple effect, rippling to affect the people around you. From the organization that you belong to, to the cause that you support. From the people whom you live with, down to the very ends of the society at large. The hurt was caused to everyone, including the person who has caused this hurt.
For this matter alone, we know that to the person who has caused harm, the harm is great. In fact, too great for him to bear if the society bears down on him.
In this passage, Paul noted that the appropriate response is to comfort and to forgive. This person who has caused this hurt is not able to bear the overwhelming sorrow that he has brought upon himself. He needs you to forgive, he needs you to comfort and encourage, he needs you to walk with him through the lowest point in their life. He needs you to reaffirm your care and your love towards him.
This response will bring about changes on two different levels. First, on the physical level, he may be able to walk out of his guilt and shame. He will be able to stand up from the wrong that he had done and face society. When he gets the love he so requires, he will be able to once again, be a good contributing person to society. On the spiritual level, he will be freed from spiritual torment of unforgiveness. Do you know that whoever we bind on earth will be bound in heaven? Do you know that whoever we let loose on earth will be let loose in heaven (Matthew 18:18, ESV)? When we forgive someone on earth, their guilt will be forgiven in heaven. The Father who is just, will not judge him based on the wrongs that he has done.
I think this is why Paul wrote that “Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive.” And this forgiveness of his was “for your sake in the presence of Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:10, ESV).
When we forgive, we forgive for the sake of others that they may be free in Christ. When we forgive, we will reduce the harm that was caused, making the society a better place to be.
Father, I thank You for your teachings at the Cross, for your prayer to forgive us even at the final breath. Father, I also thank You for teaching us through Paul who reiterated this teaching of forgiveness to us so that we may learn to forgive. Father, if I have not been able to forgive anyone, grant me the courage and the strength to forgive, so that we will release each other on earth as in heaven and to not be outwitted by Satan. Father, grant to us the Spirit of Obedience that will guide us to our eventual sanctification. I pray all these in Jesus’ Name, Amen.